Barely a month after she was sworn in as the first female governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be watched nationwide Tuesday night as she delivers the Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address.
The president will address Congress and the nation at 9 p.m. ET and will be immediately followed by Sanders, onetime press secretary to former President Donald Trump and daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Sanders enthusiasts in the Razorback State have high hopes for their "favorite daughter."
One of them is Rex Nelson, former journalist and longtime political operative for Mike Huckabee.
"Absolutely — Sarah will get a boost from her address on national television," Nelson told Newsmax.
"As the nation's youngest governor, she will now be known as something far more than Donald Trump's former press secretary," Nelson continued. "She still must perform in office, of course, but it's safe to say she's on the national political map and certainly has to be considered someone who might be on the Republican ticket next year."
An example of an up-and-coming Republican who profited in a big way from replying to the State of the Union address was the late Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee. Having just been elected to the Senate in 1994 to fill the seat of Vice President Al Gore, onetime film actor Thompson was tapped for the task of replying to President Bill Clinton's annual message.
Sitting on the edge of a desk in an empty office, joking he "just got there" and didn't have "time to unpack," Thompson then delivered a well-versed reply to Clinton's address and a stirring summation of the vision of the Republicans who had just won control of both Houses of Congress.
Not since Ronald Reagan's stirring "Time for Choosing" speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964 had a televised political address evoked so many favorable calls and mail and so much encouragement of the Speaker to run for president (Thompson did eventually and unsuccessfully run for president in 2008, long after the magic of his address more than a decade before had faded).
More times than not, however, the task of responding to the president in the majestic setting of the U.S. House chamber is herculean — and results in a net loss of status for the "designated responder."
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 2013 response to President Barack Obama's address was mocked on "Saturday Night Live" for pausing to take a sip of water. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's 2009 message following Obama's first State of the Union address was widely panned as dull. Democrat Rep. Joe Kennedy III and Georgia's defeated Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivered replies to Trump's addresses in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and both were beaten in their next trips to the polls.
"Replying to the State of the Union address after it is delivered is a thankless task," historian David Pietrusza, author of six critically-acclaimed books on presidential election years, told Newsmax. "You go on immediately after the president has been cheered and applauded at the Capitol, and it's a very tough act to follow. Very often, the responder looks like Dick Nixon in 1952 looking right into the camera to deliver his 'Checkers' speech, only he doesn't have the cocker spaniel."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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